CRD’s Stinky “Decision” on Sewage Treatment
-Esquimalt refuses to accept CRD’s short-sighted sewage plan
Something really stinks about the Capital Regional District’s recent decision to locate the entire region’s liquid sewage treatment plant at McCloughlin Point in Esquimalt. At this week’s Council meeting, Mayor Barb Desjardins and the entire Council were unanimous in expressing their frustration, outrage, and disgust for the CRD’s heavy-handed approach of moving forward with a sewage plan that directly impacts Esquimalt’s waterfront and land use without any local community consultation whatsoever.
Esquimalt’s Sewage Treatment Action Group (STAG) President Kim Bellefontaine summed up community frustration best in her public input comments to Council at Monday’s Council meeting as follows:
Mayor and Council, respectfully, the CRD’s sewage treatment planning has been a complete charade. Over $20 million dollars spent and years of time wasted and it’s come down to this.
This plan is not the result of the best and most innovative technology for the region or minimizing social and environmental impacts. It’s not about maximizing beneficial re-use of resources, reducing greenhouse gases or putting our region on a foundation for greater sustainability. This is not the plan that the experts supported or that was consulted on with the public. All of the planning has been an utter sham. It’s all come down to the fact that McCloughlin Point and Hartland were the only sites the CRD could get.
This treatment plan is a travesty for the region.
McCloughlin Point is the wrong place for a centralized liquid facility; experts have told us so and this has never been our community’s vision for the use of the site. It will not support major resource recovery; only phosphorous recovery may now be reasonably feasible. And while the CRD has had to firmly name the liquid plant, they have only loosely pointed the finger at Hartland landfill, while looking for another spot. Why is it that the CRD doesn’t have to provide the details of viable biosolids management yet? How are we to know what the real impacts to our community could be? Right now we’ve only been presented one-half of an already half-baked plan, and they are looking for other sites for biosolids and you can bet they are looking as close to Esquimalt as they can get. This is just not unacceptable.
And now our community is expected to take the brunt of the impacts and engage in mitigation and amenity discussions, when the CRD can’t really tell us about biosolids component and what the full effects to our community could be. I and many others have absolutely no trust or confidence in the CRD’s ability to fairly engage. Our community has not been consulted on this proposed use of the McCloughlin and engagement after decision making is not acceptable.
Mayor and Council we need your help. We need you to push for real and significant improvements to this plan, not just mitigation and amenities. We need you to ensure there is no trucking of biosolids under any circumstances. And we need you to ensure that our community is treated fairly and that there is meaningful engagement for our citizens. A few hours of lip-service in the summer and fall after decisions have been made is just not going to cut it.
Esquimalt resident Kim Bellefontaine is the founding President of the Sewage Treatment Action Group (STAG), a grassroots community group that formed in response to the Minister of Environment’s directive to the Capital Regional District (CRD) to design a new, innovative, environmentally-responsible, and community supported plan to better treat the region’s sewage waste.